CHITRADURGA: The Covid-19 pandemic and lockdowns have had a severe impact across the globe, throwing thousands of lives out of gear and bringing financial gloom, causing people emotional, mental and physical stress. Many are still struggling to return to some semblance of stability, especially on the livelihood front.
In such a scenario, Bengaluru-based SELCO Foundation brought a ray of light for people in Davanagere and Chitradurga districts, by introducing the concept of ‘Solar Kuteer’ (shed), providing solar-powered livelihood solutions.
Mangala, a resident of Nanjayyanakottige in Hiriyur taluk of Chitradurga district, owns a solar-powered photocopy machine that helps her earn nearly Rs 1,000 per day. She also runs a canteen and a grocery shop. In all, her daily income now ranges between Rs 5,000 and Rs 5,500. After losing her husband Srinivas in 2002, Mangala, who owned a small roadside eatery, took the pledge that she would ensure her sons, Ravikiran and Deepak, complete their formal education, and the two lived up to their mother’s expectations. Recently, Ravikiran completed B.Com and Deepak is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Commerce.
“My life was at the crossroads during the lockdown and I was struggling to manage my financial challenges. It was then that SELCO Foundation, under the Solar Kuteer project, funded me. It has helped me earn a decent income of Rs 1,000 per day,” Mangala told TNSE.
The total cost of the project at Nanjayyanakottige was Rs 2.63 lakh, of which the Foundation invested Rs 1.90 lakh, whereas the remaining amount was pumped in by Mangala. Since then, there has been no looking back, as the project has helped her improve her financial status.
Like Mangala, Nittuvalli-based Naghabhushan D’s life has also changed, thanks to the Solar Kuteer project. “I was living without a vision; there was no one to help me take up income-generating activities. Luckily, SELCO Foundation came to my rescue and helped me set up a common services centre,” says Naghabhushan, who suffers from a spinal cord injury. Today, he earns Rs 300-500 per day, depending on the number of applicants and customers.
“Due to my precision in work and availability, many youngsters wait for me to arrive from Nittuvalli, for job applications and printing documents,” he adds. Earlier, Naghabhushan was earning Rs 100-150 a day, and struggling to make ends meet. However, the Foundation’s timely intervention helped him improve his economic status. It provided him with a light, fan and the all-weather solar kuteer.
Similarly, HT Yogeshwarachari, a tailor from Hireuda village of Davanagere district, was having a hard time running his tailoring business. After the Foundation gave him a solar-powered motor to operate the sewing machine, Yogeshwarachari, a paraplegic, today earns approximately Rs 400 per day. “Earlier, I used to peddle the machine for my livelihood, but it wasn’t easy, and I couldn’t complete my orders on time. Ever since I started using the mechanical device, my income has doubled,” he says with a smile.
During the lockdown imposed to curb the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, Yogeshwarachari stitched masks and sold them to villagers, to make some extra income. Like him, Jayapadma from Davanagere district today earns between Rs 200 and Rs 400 a day, after SELCO gave her a sewing machine that operates on solar-powered motor. Until recently, Jayapadma, who suffered a spinal cord injury in 2004, was sitting idle.
Apart from initiating the Solar Kuteer project during the lockdown, SELCO also provided a solar rope-making machine to 24 ropemakers of Patrehalli village — mostly inhabited by the Banjara community. Along with the machine, the Foundation also gave them coir worth Rs 4,000 each. The project has helped them earn Rs10,000 to Rs 15,000 per month, informed Kumar, one of the beneficiaries.
Manjunath Bhagwath, head of SELCO Foundation in Chitradurga and Davanagere, said that SELCO has been funding such projects for the uplift of marginalised populations. With a nominal amount from the beneficiary, the Foundation ensures that the latter “feel responsible towards their work”. The projects were implemented in association with organisations that work for women and differently-abled citizens.